5 perfect movies for addressing big moods people are feeling during the outbreak

The idea of "cinema therapy" might be as old as the movies themselves. When you need a good cry, laugh, escape or new perspective, movies can offer an emotional catharsis that even books, TV shows and music can't quite match (all right, a good sad song can do wonders, as Elton John noted).

Right about now, everyone needs some kind of good emotional release, and movies are a great place to turn – but there are just too many choices on too many streaming services. With that in mind, here are five films that can fit many of the complicated moods you may be feeling right about now.


FEELING SCARED?

Defending Your Life

Defending Your Life (1991) Official Trailer - Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep Movie HD www.youtube.com


From writer-director Albert Brooks, Defending Your Life is about a man who suddenly finds himself isolated from everyone and everything he knows: He dies. But he's whisked away to Judgment City, a strangely comforting blend of theme park and office complex. His task is to sit in literal judgment of his life and defend himself against accusations he lived in too much fear. An perfectly winning cast led by Brooks, Meryl Streep, Rip Torn and Lee Grant make this romantic-comedy sparkle, but there's something deeper here, something that all of us can use right now: a reminder that we are all stronger than we think and that fear doesn't need to get the best of us.


(Available on multiple streaming services for about $4)

FEELING WORRIED?

Joe Versus the Volcano


Joe Versus The Volcano (1990) Official Trailer - Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan Comedy HD www.youtube.com


In Joe Versus the Volcano, Joe Banks (played by Tom Hanks) lives in constant anxiety. He's stuck in a job he hates, and a visit to the doctor reveals a dread diagnosis. That's when he gets a most unusual job offer that propels him on a trans-Pacific voyage that turns into a grand adventure that makes him face his anxieties. This 1990 film is endlessly silly, sometimes downright weird, and certainly an oddity. It's also emotionally daring and honest: writer-director John Patrick Shanley wears his heart on his sleeve, and gladly. In a rare triple performance, Meg Ryan shines brightly – she has a monologue about being "soul sick" that will resonate with anyone in self-isolation or quarantine with another person. The visually magnificent moment in which Joe acknowledges a higher power is about as poetic as movies could possibly get.

(Available on multiple streaming services for about $4.)


FEELING DOUBTFUL?

OH, GOD!


Oh, God! (1977) Official Trailer - John Denver, George Burns Movie HD www.youtube.com


We're living in a deeply fraught time that could understandably make someone doubt religion. But what if God showed up in the world with a message of faith? That's the setup of director Carl Reiner's 1977 comedy Oh, God!, written by Larry Gelbart ("MASH," Tootsie). God is played by the inimitable comedian George Burns (if you don't know him at all, this will be a special treat), and his modern-day prophet is played by a deeply doubtful John Denver (yes, the singer). Despite its subject matter, the movie is completely agnostic – God, it turns out, doesn't really go in for the religious stuff. Gently, sweetly, the movie takes on some huge issues: Does God even care? Why is there suffering? Does God make mistakes? It's also a great snapshot of the way suburbia looked in 1977 – yes, it really was that funky. But there's something undeniably reassuring about its ultimate message.

(Available on Amazon and Turner Classic Movies On Demand)

FEELING CURIOUS?

The Andromeda Strain


The Andromeda Strain (1971) Trailer www.youtube.com


While fear and anxiety are understandable, sometimes it can help to take a more clinical approach and to examine the problem from a more dispassionate angle. That's what happens in director Robert Wise's 1971 film The Andromeda Strain, which is based on a novel by Michael Crichton, undisputed master of science-based fiction. But once you do, you'll not only marvel at the eerie familiarity of scientists alarmed by the appearance of a never-before-seen virus that causes some pretty awful symptoms and is always fatal … except to two people. You might also feel increasingly comforted by seeing the dedication that four scientists in particular have to learning about and defeating the microbe. Wise also directed Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Day the Earth Stood Still, and he knows his way around intelligent sci-fi.

(Available on multiple streaming services for about $4.)


FEELING LIKE YOU NEED A GOOD CRY?

Terms of Endearment


Terms of Endearment - Trailer www.youtube.com


The best thing we can do sometimes is just let it all out. But when we've been holding it in, we need something to help us break through the emotions, and cinematically speaking you can't do better than 1983's Terms of Endearment. Writer-director James L. Brooks puts screen legend Shirley MacLaine together with Debra Winger in a still-hilarious comedy about an over-protective mother and her rebellious daughter who have to maintain a long-distance relationship back when communication wasn't as speedy. A plot twist turns the story into a heartbreaking drama that is massively effective at getting the tears flowing and letting the emotions out, even when sly, salty Jack Nicholson is on screen.

(Available on multiple streaming platforms for about $3-4 – which will be well-spent for those who need to let it all loose)

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."